Coffee grinders on the market today come with a variety of different features, designed to suit whatever function you are looking for.
The coffee grinder you choose is as important as the machine that extracts the coffee and getting the right one is key for your business to operate efficiently.
Some grinders have fancy add-ons such as clump-crushers, fans and lights, all of which carry a benefit but are not always vital depending on your coffee shop model and price bracket.
This blog is designed to guide you through the buying process of a coffee grinder and make you make the best decision.
It is the most important part of preparing an espresso and if your grinder doesn’t create a fine, fluffy dosing then your espresso will never taste right.
“Having a clear maintenance protocol and
support from your coffee machine supplier
is important for the longevity of
your equipment and business itself”.
Functions of a commercial coffee grinder
A good place to start would be to work out what function you want a coffee grinder for.
As well as the commercial grinders that a barista would use there are also deli grinders on the market.
These taller, more industrial looking units are more efficient when grinding in large quantities and have features like bag clips to avoid mess. Deli grinders are great for filter grind but sometimes suffer when grinding espresso.
The opposing problem is seen with coffee shop grinders as the small range of grind size makes it hard to achieve a filter grind.
There are some hybrids on the market that produce a wide range of high-quality grinds, yet this obviously comes with a hefty price tag.
Manual dose vs on-demand grinders
Another feature to consider is how the coffee is dosed. Coffee shop style grinders have a few options when it comes to dosing.
One is to use a manual dose grinder where the coffee is ground into a hopper and dispensed using a lever, this feature isn’t that accurate when it comes to consistency and encourages the idea that the hopper should be full – resulting in the coffee reducing in freshness. On the other hand, you have the on-demand style grinder.
By programming a button to grind for a certain number of seconds you are allowing the coffee to directly fill the basket and know that next time it will do the exact same, this is ideal for consistency.
It also only grinds coffee that will be used within the next minute, keeping your shots tasting fresh. On-demand grinders would certainly be our first choice when buying a grinder for a coffee shop.
The benefits of grind consistency
Having already mentioning grind size, another important point to make is grind consistency.
Grind consistency is the uniformity of each particle of coffee, determined by how evenly the coffee passes through the grinder blades. This is key in producing high quality flavour, ensuring that every shot tastes the same and help draw your customers back for more.
If you have used a hand coffee grinder, you may have noticed that some of the grinds vary in size, with large sea salt size particles among a really fine powder. This will create uneven extraction when the water hits the coffee puck, leaving a bitter and sour taste which isn’t desirable.
Grind consistency is influenced by the material of the blades and the building of the grinder, this is often why consistency and price are heavily correlated.
How do you get the best out of your grinder?
Another important factor is reliability. The investment of the grinder is only justified when you know it can perform day in day out.
Testing a variety of coffee grinders over a short period of time won’t give an accurate idea of how these machines will perform during a busy shift.
Performance will most likely be determined by the quality of the parts of the grinder but buying it from a reliable source with a warranty is also key. We will talk about maintenance and warranty a little later in this post.
Choose an easy to use grinder
A grinder also has to be easy to use, both from a set-up point of view and in practise. Recalibrating a grinder during a shift has to be seamless and effective, so you’re not chasing the grind whilst there is a queue of thirsty customers.
A sturdy collar (the wheel around the blades) allows for tiny adjustments to the grind, it will also prevent the grind from slipping out of position which can happen when cleaning.
Some features of the grinder may not seem awkward at first, but their true performance will reveal itself after some time. Getting a grinder that all staff can operate and understand is important for workplace efficiency.
As well as being easy to use, a grinder should also be friendly to be next to. A grinder is essentially two discs of metal that rotate at high speeds within a frame. This can create quite a lot of noise which isn’t ideal for the customers or staff.
Choose a high-performing grinder
Grinders that carry more weight can help bury the noise and vibrations into the counter-top and this can also be offset by the location of the grinder.
As well as noise, heat can also accumulate due to the friction. When the blades get warm is can affect the taste of the coffee and overall performance of the grinder as oils are slowly released which clogs the internal mechanism.
Again, location of the grinder can offset this but there are some options within the grinders themselves such as fans which create a consistent ambience.
Consider the vital tasks of a grinder
With all of the points mentioned above, it probably isn’t hard to see why grinders come at an array of prices. The priority should be the blades themselves and how they grind coffee.
Grind size and consistency lies higher than any other of the other points mentioned and if the grinder cannot perform this vital task well, then it is a wasted investment.
There are many grinders on the market that are appealing from a price perspective but may only perform for a few months before you have to repeat that investment with something of higher quality.
The functionality of the coffee grinder is the most important yet trading some features to reduce the price may seem wise if your budget is restricted.
Lights, fans and scales drastically ramp up the price of a grinder, but do they provide a function that solely relates to increasing trade?
We would advise to be weary of the jargon and add-ons that may entice you in but don’t justify the outcome they provide. The most favourable grinder isn’t suited to every business model.
Consider ongoing services and warranty
Another point to consider is that service that you are getting from the company you purchased the coffee grinder from.
As well as the materials themselves, what else are you getting out of your grinder?
What warranty does it come with and what happens if your grinder misbehaves mid-shift?
Having a clear maintenance protocol and support from your coffee machine supplier is important for the longevity of your equipment and business itself.
Speak to the experts
Going forward, we advise that the best first step to make is speaking to an expert.
They can talk you through further aspects mentioned in this post and help find a grinder that suits all areas of your operation.
Each feature of the grinder can be discussed at length to ensure that you have made right investment and the espresso you make tastes fantastic.